new icn messageflickr-free-ic3d pan white
Is it clean ? | by Neil. Moralee
Back to photostream

Is it clean ?

Street shot, Jaipur, India.


More than 500 million people live along the Ganges River. An estimated 2,000,000 persons ritually bathe daily in the river, which is considered holy by Hindus.


A 2007 study found that discharge of untreated sewage is the single most important source of pollution of surface and ground water in India. There is a large gap between generation and treatment of domestic waste water in India. The problem is not only that India lacks sufficient treatment capacity but also that the sewage treatment plants that exist do not operate and are not maintained.


Even though India revised its National Water Policy in 2002 to encourage community participation and decentralize water management, the country's complex bureaucracy ensures that it remains a "mere statement of intent." Responsibility for managing water issues is fragmented among a dozen different ministries and departments without any coordination. The government bureaucracy and state-run project department has failed to solve the problem, despite having spent many years and $140 million on this project.



What are the root causes of India’s water crisis?


India’s water crisis is rooted in three causes. The first is insufficient water per person as a result of population growth. The total amount of usable water has been estimated to be between 700 to 1,200 billion cubic meters (bcm). With a population of 1.2 billion according to the 2011 census, India has only 1,000 cubic meters of water per person, even using the higher estimate. A country is considered water-stressed if it has less than 1,700 cubic meters per person per year. For comparison, India had between 3,000 and 4,000 cubic meters per person in 1951, whereas the United States has nearly 8,000 cubic meters per person today.


The second cause is poor water quality resulting from insufficient and delayed investment in urban water-treatment facilities. Water in most rivers in India is largely not fit for drinking, and in many stretches not even fit for bathing. Despite the Ganga Action Plan, which was launched in 1984 to clean up the Ganges River in 25 years, much of the river remains polluted with a high coliform count at many places. The facilities created are also not properly maintained because adequate fees are not charged for the service. Moreover, industrial effluent standards are not enforced because the state pollution control boards have inadequate technical and human resources.


The third problem is dwindling groundwater supplies due to over-extraction by farmers. This is because groundwater is an open-access resource and anyone can pump water from under his or her own land. Given how highly fragmented land ownership is in India, with millions of farmers and an average farm size of less than two hectares, the tragedy of the commons is inevitable. India extracted 251 bcm of groundwater in 2010, whereas the United States extracted only 112 bcm. Further, India’s rate of extraction has been steadily growing from a base of 90 bcm in 1980, while this rate in the United States has remained at more or less the same level since 1980.



As a tourist, bottled water with a sealed top is advisable (it is not unknown for street vendors to re-fill bottles), avoid ice, dont forget that you will need the bottled water to clean your teeth. Alternativley you could just stick to beer.

29 faves
Taken on January 25, 2011